The Football Notebook
Premier League Season Review
Updated: Aug 1, 2020
So that’s that. The longest Premier League season in history is over, and it certainly felt that way. But the drama never ceased - records were broken, tears were shed, and the excitement didn’t stop.
So here is The Football Notebook’s™ Premier League Season Review, with each team receiving a Letter Grade, and a review of their season to go with it.
Arsenal | 8th | C+
This is the worst finish that the Gunners have managed for 25 years. But things are not as bad as they might seem.
The club is littered with numerous young talents. Their manager is a highly respected ex-player. The environment and atmosphere surrounding the club is getting better and better.
They are finally overhauling a squad and removing the toxic personalities from the dressing room.
And although they have been the kings of inconsistency, there have been excellent displays against some of the top sides in Europe.
However, if you just look at this 38-game season, Arsenal have been poor on the whole - the future looks bright, but a C+ seems fair for a team that did not qualify for Europe.
Aston Villa | 17th | B
Wow. The latest ‘Great Escape’ to occur in the Prem. Having spent 17 out of 38 Match Days in the relegation zone, and 9 out of the last 11 there, Aston Villa managed to just about scrape their way out of a ride back to the Championship with a 1-1 draw against West Ham, with Bournemouth winning 3-1 against Everton to almost manage an even Greater Escape.
Dean Smith was emotional at full-time, giving an interview as to how grateful he was. He is certainly a big part as to why the Villans are staying up - although a certain Captain Jack Grealish is also to thank for.
But they can consider themselves extremely lucky to still be in the top flight.
A Goal Line Technology blunder led to Aston Villa picking up a point - which proved the difference between a Bournemouth relegation or a Villa one.
Having said that, Aston Villa are a Premier League club at heart and we are happy that they are staying up in England’s Premier Division.
Bournemouth | 18th | C–
This is one that has hit hard on a personal level.
If you knew the struggles Bournemouth went through to get to the top flight - from almost going extinct due to a potential relegation to the National League to then reach the Premier League just a few years later.
Nonetheless, Bournemouth’s performances this season have not been at the level which their squad is at - they have many top quality players who have been playing together for a while now.
But the Prem is relentless, and any slip ups cost a fortune, including ones they did not make themselves(Aston Villa 0-0 Sheffield United, the Goal Line tech incident).
Brighton | 15th | B
41 points has meant that 19/20 has been the best tally since Brighton has joined up the Premier League.
And they have progressed, being fairly comfortable and pretty safe from relegation.
The football has gotten more pleasing, the club more and more like one that deserves top-flight status.
Some solid matches, including a 3-0 defeat of Spurs and a 2-1 win against Arsenal have shown that they are establishing themselves as a mid-table side in the PL.
Burnley | 10th | B+
This Burnley side continues to impress. After a disappointing 18/19, the Clarets were once again in the fight for Europe, finishing just 5 points off 6th place.
Their football is viewed as negative but Sean Dyche has done an excellent job at Turf Moor, and deserves credit.
However, we think that this Burnley side will plateau for a while.
They have the fan base, and the grit and determination to get within touching distance of the top of English football, but right now they need that star power that is unattainable to Sean Dyche for the moment.
Chelsea | 4th | A
What a rollercoaster ride it has been for Blues fans. A transfer ban, their talisman Eden Hazard leaving, and an inexperienced(although much loved) manager coming in.
Who knew they would finish in 4th, with an FA Cup Final this Sunday, having given 9 academy graduates their debut whilst playing beautiful - yet inconsistent - football.
And, with Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and most likely Kai Havertz secured for next season, Chelsea’s attack and midfield are up there with the best in the league.
But their main issue has been defence, shown by the 54 goals they conceded this season, and should they fail to sign a goalkeeper and left back they are not truly title contenders.
Nevertheless, they have been linked with a £27M move for Andre Onana - and should they come through with it, are looking at one of the best deals of the entire transfer window.
Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Fikayo Tomori, Faustino Ajorin, Lewis Bate, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Billy Gilmour, Armando Broja.
And that’s not even counting those who did not graduate from Chelsea’s academy.
The future has never been brighter.
Crystal Palace | 14th | B–
Roy Hodgson has done a solid job in stabilising the London side but this club needs more to ever leave their safe perch of mid-table mediocrity.
But the biggest one is more ambition.
19/20 has been an average season at best, and a disappointment at worst. Their main man Zaha has only managed to contribute 4 goals and 3 assists, and they have struggled for many parts of the season due to their inability to score - as portrayed by the fact that they are the second lowest scoring side in the division.
A few results have completely blown people away, and Crystal Palace needs to change to move up the ladder.
Everton | 12th | C+
You surprise the world by signing one of its best managers in Carlo Ancelotti, go on an astonishing run of form - looking to challenge for European spots - before blowing it with a mediocre set of results, that included solid wins against good sides and losses against average ones.
But Ancelotti’s side has shown promise, and if anyone can bring Everton back to Europe, it's him - especially with the talent at his disposal in Richarlison, Calvert-Lewin, Andre Gomes, Moise Kean, and Tom Davies.
So all Everton’s fans should be excited for what's to come.
Leicester City | 5th | A–
This was meant to be one for the neutrals.
Leicester City. The club that if you did not support, you most likely still quietly liked.
A fairytale title win in 15/16 after almost getting relegated the year before.
So when Leicester emerged as early contenders for the title this season, most people outside of those supporting Liverpool were pretty happy.
They kept going strong for a while, before 2020 hit them hard.
Jamie Vardy slowed down after a ridiculous run of form, Wilfred Ndidi got injured, and the team’s progress halted.
They managed an impressive 42 points in 20 games in 2019, before they only mustered 20 points in the 18 that took place in 2020.
And after having a 14 point gap between themselves and Manchester United, they ended the season 4 points behind them - in a similar fashion to Liverpool’s infamous title capitulation under the same manager 6 years ago.
So questions have been raised over Brendan Rodgers’ ability to lead a big club at the top when it really matters.
But, even though Leicester failed to make those coveted Champions League spots, this season has been promising, and if Leicester continue to make smart decisions, they will be able to challenge anyone that comes their way.
Liverpool | 1st | A+
99 points is a remarkable achievement for a remarkable club who have come a remarkable way.
It isn’t quite the 100 Manchester City managed in 17/18, and the league as a whole may be a bit weaker, but this team has done an exceptional job, and is composed of a number of brilliant players who have worked in cohesion to break records.
The football is scintillating, and the results back it up - something which often is not the case.
But all the other superclubs are already planning revenge whilst Liverpool celebrate - and Klopp needs to defend this title with all that they have.
Manchester City | 2nd | A–
If you were to look at Expected Points, Manchester City should be sitting pretty at the top of the table with a considerable 13 point cushion.
But stupid individual mistakes, poor recruitment choices(particularly at centre-back), and a few unlucky injuries have meant Pep’s City have slipped to 2nd, 18 points behind the now perennial rivals that are Liverpool.
Yet the core of the club remains, the UEFA ban has been lifted, and the modern tiki-taka style honed by Guardiola over the years remains eye-catching and effective.
Phil Foden is finally getting minutes, Eric Garcia looks like the centre-back saviour that they have needed for months, and Kevin De Bruyne can’t stop getting better.
The Citizens may not have been the same this season, but they are going to give a hell of a fight to knock the Liverpudlian bird off its perch.
Manchester United | 3rd | A
Is this finally the time we see the Manchester United of old?
After a 4-0 win against Chelsea(the scoreline flattered the performance, but a result is a result), United descended to the bottom half, even managing to get into the “Risk of Relegation” section in an ESPN video.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer led the Red Devils to 3rd place, with a certain Bruno Fernandes to thank for.
A brilliant run of form brought them to that, showcasing to the world just how good Man United are when Rashford, Martial, Fernandes, and Greenwood are firing on all cylinders.
United are back in the big leagues, and those who do not have their head on a swivel are going to get wiped out.
Newcastle United | 13th | C+
Just like Manchester City, Newcastle United’s actual position in the table is quite different to what Expected Points says.
But unlike City, they should be all the way at the rock bottom, with only 32 points, not sitting safely at 44 points in 13th place.
That’s why even though their performances are below C+, the fact that they have managed to score chances which were not meant to be and stop goals that were, means that this team is willing to do whatever it takes and can get over the line in the big moments.
Newcastle is going through a tedious takeover, but should it go through, the team with the best fanbase in England is going to be up there with the richest - should they play it well, you could be looking at the next Manchester City within a few years.
Norwich City | 20th | D+
Beautiful Football, a Championship title, and a solid squad with a good manager.
Yet they became the 6th worst side in PL history with only 21 points, and the big wins against big teams can not cover up that this season was a poor one.
They have many young talents - but that is a huge issue.
These players will want to leave to the clubs in the top flight, and Norwich will have to sell cheap because of their relegation.
But if they keep playing aesthetically pleasing football, keep trying to blood young players, The Canaries can look at a return to the Premier League in the not too distant future.
Sheffield United | 9th | A+
Chris Wilder deserves Manager of the Season.
Controversial, I know.
But hear me out.
They have come into the Premier League with a Championship level side and 2nd tier resources.
Yet they challenged for Champions League spots. All because they took a wild idea and made it even Wilder.
With their overlapping centre-backs, Sheffield managed to overload the flanks all the whilst keeping defensive solidity. This made sure that The Blades could strike on the counter and rarely be struck back, resulting in many brilliant matches with entertaining football and a Sheffield United win.
5 points off of Europa League spots is incredible for a side tipped for relegation, and Chris Wilder and his incredible team are responsible.
Southampton | 11th | B+
From a 9-0 home loss to a comfortable mid-table position, the Southampton board must be happy that they kept Ralph Hasenhuttl on.
They were 19th, down and out, but slowly yet steadily climbed out of relegation, and up.
Danny Ings suddenly became the beast we all knew he had the potential to be, and the squad started working for each other again.
The Saints may be looked down on as a feeder club to Liverpool, but there is a reason the Champions of England repeatedly buy their players.
They are well run, coached, managed, and they put that into their matches. Southampton may not be aiming for the top of the table, but you should never bet against them - and this year was no different.
Tottenham | 6th | B
Who knew that Jose Mourinho of all people would replace the revered Pochettino after they were sitting 14th in the Premier League
And who knew that this would be a few months after they reached a Champions League Final.
Well, probably no one.
Yet here we are, and somehow Mourinho managed to rescue Spurs’ season by finishing in European spots. Towards the end of the season, Harry Kane was in great form, so was Son, the midfield was performing well and the defence too.
But there are many deep rooted problems at this club that have been growing for years and it will take more than just a manager change to get back to the glory days of a CL Final or 2nd in the Prem.
So Spurs fans, you better buckle up for the ride, because it's going to be a long and bumpy one.
Watford | 19th | C–
They were so close. And if you look closely, you will see that their case is similar to what Southampton was in a few months ago after a certain record breaking loss and a 19th placing.
But unlike Southampton, the Hornets decided to sack the manager who had brought them on the brink of an escape, and who had the best points per game tally in the PL of any Watford manager in history.
Nigel Pearson left, and Watford ended the season 1 win away from safety.
There is still hope, but a lot of their key players are starting to edge away from the prime and into their decline, and this was the year that they needed to stay up in the top flight to be able to finance an overhaul.
The Hornets missed their chance to sting, and it would take a miracle for them to come up to the Prem anytime soon.
West Ham | 16th | D+
Expectation vs Reality.
This has been a real poor season for the Hammers. They have the money, the resources, the sway, and a solid squad. Nevertheless, they scraped their way out of relegation after having to rehire the infamous David Moyes.
His words may be better than his results, but he still got them to safety, and if given time could actually turn the London outfit around.
The Irons need to be patient, and there are bumps in the road to success. They need to learn from this season as if it were one of those bumps, but they should not dwell on it for too long.
That’s why we think West Ham will surprise everyone next season and be reaching for Europa League spots - even if they lose the boy wonder that is Declan Rice to rivals Chelsea.
Wolves | 7th | A–
Two 7th place finishes in the immediate two years after promotion is quite impressive. Nuno Espirito Santo is rarely spoken about yet he should be - he has transformed players as individuals, created one of the best ecosystems in his dressing room, and has brought this side a long way - with the road not ending soon.
Wolves had the opportunity for Champions League Football in their grasp. But that’s not what's most important - sure CL Football would be a blessing to their finances, but they have one of the smallest squads in Europe and have an established starting XI with few replacements already in the club that Nuno genuinely trusts.
Raul Jimenez, Joao Moutinho, Adama Traore, Diogo Jota, and Ruben Neves are all brilliant players, but they would have been spread too thin - however, with the Europa League, they will have easier matchups and a much higher chance of lifting a trophy.
So maybe 7th is disappointing to those who saw the situation a few weeks ago, but 7th may be a blessing in disguise.
19/20 is finally over - and so is this review.
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